In a launch closely watched by the airline industry, Eos Airlines began offering innovative premium-class only service tailored to trans-Atlantic business travellers on 18 October, 2005. Defying conventional industry wisdom - the new airline staked its future on the belief that business and luxury oriented travellers were calling for improved service, rather than simply discounted fare structures.
One year later, the results are in, and Eos has emerged as a remarkable success story. Eos’ unrivalled emphasis on ‘curb to curb’ personal service and its ability to diminish the typical airport delays in check-in and security resonated with an audience of business executives increasingly frustrated by hassles in and discomfort of international air travel.
Pioneering a New Category Across the Atlantic
The airline has pioneered a new category - not simply the ‘all business class,’ category that includes recent start-ups still focused largely on discounted pricing, but a category devoted to personal service. Eos, with only 48 flat-bed suites on a plane originally designed for 220 passengers, consistently hears from its guests that it is ‘superior to even the best of first class on other carriers’ and ‘reminiscent of the Concorde’ or ‘more like a large private jet’, even as the Eos experience is offered at business class prices.
‘We’re a new breed of airline that gives business and luxury travellers what they want most - comfort, space, speed and responsiveness,’ said Eos Chairman and CEO Dave Pottruck. ‘We’ve looked to five-star hotels for insights in training many of our staff and we treat our passengers as guests,’ Pottruck continued. ‘It is our belief that those travellers who have a heavy workload across the ocean must arrive refreshed and revived. With six flight attendants serving a maximum of 48 guests, and with fully horizontal flat beds, exceptional food and in-flight entertainment, ease of boarding and deplaning, and a consuming passion for service at the core of our existence, this is an airline experience like no other.’
Accelerating Indications of Success
There are many recent indicators of success for the airline. In September, Eos launched a new schedule featuring a second daily flight in each direction on the London to New York route. September also set sales records for the airline, with the greatest number of monthly bookings in Eos’ one-year history. Gross bookings in September increased 65% versus the trailing three month average. Even with seating capacity virtually doubled - the airline maintained load factors of 66% for the month. Forward bookings for October and November are also at unprecedented levels, up 56% versus last 90 days. Eos also continues to provide the best on-time performance among all airlines on the London to New York route.
Perhaps most importantly, the ‘intent to recommend,’ among Eos guests, one of the most telling customer satisfaction metrics, has consistently scored at nearly 90%. This ‘Net Promoter’ score, as author Fred Reichheld has labelled it in his new business bestseller, The Ultimate Question, places Eos at the very top of a range of ‘best-of-class’ companies across multiple industries. Customer survey data has also demonstrated deep appreciation for Eos staff and service levels, with flight attendants earning a 97% approval rate.
Another worthwhile indicator of success occurred in the area of philanthropy, as Eos helped raise more than $1 million for charitable organisations in the UK and U.S. during the airline’s first year of operations. Eos even earned an international design award for its patented lie-flat suites. The award, the Red Dot, has been previously earned by market leaders such as Porsche, Apple Computer, and TAG Heuer.
Looking to the Future
‘We’re very gratified by the response and deeply appreciative of our guests and the dedication of our employees,’ Pottruck added. ‘We are grateful for the support we have received from the London and New York communities this past year. But, we take nothing for granted. There is still a lot of work ahead - we’ll continue to listen to what our guests and our front line staff tell us and innovate based on our customers needs.’
Dave Spurlock, Eos Founder and Chief Strategic Officer, commented, ‘We are actively pursuing new routes and city pairs, and we plan to introduce continued refinements to our fleet.’ ‘We’re pleased to have come this far in just a year,’ Spurlock continued, ‘but we will strive for additional improvements. We will continue to develop an airline deserving of our customers’ business and their respect.’